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MEFA Reviews: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

MEFA loans don't offer deferment or forbearance, so they're best for borrowers with strong job security.
June 25, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, known as MEFA, offers student loan refinancing and private student loans for undergrads and graduate students. Private student loan borrowers must live or go to college in Massachusetts. Any qualified borrower, however, can refinance existing student loans through MEFA.

Here we review MEFA’s refinance loan; you’ll find a review of its private student loan below.

Review of MEFA’s private student loan

MEFA student loan refinancing

3.5 NerdWallet rating

Unlike most other federal and private lenders, MEFA doesn’t let borrowers pause payments temporarily through deferment or forbearance.

That means this loan is best for those who have stable incomes and don’t foresee needing breathing room in the future. MEFA says it will work with borrowers experiencing financial hardship on a case-by-case basis to modify their payment plans if long-term affordability is a concern.

You don’t have to have graduated in order to refinance. But you must have made one year’s worth of on-time payments toward your loans, and you’re ineligible if you’ve defaulted on student loans in the past.

MEFA student loan refinancing at a glance:

  • Borrowers without a degree can refinance.
  • No late fees.
  • No co-signer release available.
MEFA
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing
Interest ratesFixed: 4.6% - 7.45%
Variable: 4.3% - 7.2%
Loan terms10 or 15 years
Loan amounts$10,000 minimum
Co-signer release availableNo
Check rates at MEFA

How much can refinancing save?

How MEFA student loan refinancing scores

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether MEFA ranks below average, average or above average compared with other student loan refinance lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying.

Serves range of borrowers:
Average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How MEFA could improve

MEFA could improve its student loan refinance product by offering:

MEFA student loan refinancing details

  • Get a personalized rate before applying: No.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: No.

Compare MEFA’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate MEFA will offer you, apply on its website.

Check rates at MEFA

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 670.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after five years.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 U.S. states.
  • Must have graduated: No.
  • Must have attended a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

  • Forbearance: None.
  • Military forbearance: Yes.
  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, if there is no co-signer. Otherwise, the co-signer takes on responsibility.
  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows bi-weekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: American Education Services.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time from approval to payoff of the refinanced loans: 14 to 21 days.

How to refinance with MEFA

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If you’re ready to refinance, you can apply on MEFA’s website.

Check rates at MEFA

MEFA private student loan

4.0 NerdWallet rating

MEFA’s student loans are available to Massachusetts residents and students attending school in the state. They don’t offer deferment or forbearance if you later have trouble affording payments. That makes MEFA a good choice only for those who expect stable income after graduation.

Private student loans through MEFA come with fixed interest rates only, which means they’ll stay the same over time, and the rate isn’t tied to your or your co-signer’s credit. All approved borrowers receive the same rate.

MEFA private student loan at a glance:

  • Origination fee of 4%-7% of the loan amount for undergraduate loans.
  • Co-signer release after 48 on-time payments.
  • Interest-only repayment option available while in school.
MEFA
Type of loanPrivate student loan
Loan terms10 or 15 years
Loan amountsMinimum: $2,000 for a private college, $1,500 for a public college; maximum: total cost of attendance minus other financial aid
Grace period6 months for undergraduates
Co-signer release availableYes
Related productsGraduate student loans
Check rates at MEFA

How MEFA private student loans score

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether MEFA ranks below average, average or above average compared with other private student loan lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying for the loan.

Serves range of borrowers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible repayment policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How MEFA could improve

MEFA could improve its student loan product by:

  • Offering economic hardship forbearance.
  • Removing its origination fee.
  • Allowing borrowers to make biweekly payments via autopay.

MEFA private student loan details

  • Get a personalized rate before applying: All approved borrowers receive the same interest rate.
  • Application or origination fee: Origination fee of 4% of the loan balance with a co-signer, or 7% of the balance without a co-signer.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: No.

Compare MEFA’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate MEFA will offer you, apply on its website.

Check rates at MEFA

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 670.
  • Minimum income: $25,001.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after five years have passed.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Available to Massachusetts residents and students who attend college in the state.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 98%.

In-school repayment options

  • Immediate: Begin making full monthly payments while still in school. Choose between 10-year and 15-year terms.
  • Deferred: You won’t be required to make any payments until your six-month grace period ends, but you can choose to make payments if you’d like. Interest will accrue while you’re in school and will capitalize, or get added to your principal balance, at the end of your grace period. This option comes with a 15-year term.
  • Interest-only: Pay only the interest while in school. Begin paying down the principal balance after you graduate or leave school. This option comes with a 15-year term.

Post-school repayment options

  • In-school deferment: Borrowers can request to defer payments for up to 12 months if they return to school to complete their degree.
  • Military deferment: Yes.
  • Forbearance: None available.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Yes, if there is no co-signer. Otherwise, the co-signer takes on responsibility.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: American Education Services.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

How to apply for a MEFA student loan

Before taking out a MEFA student loan or any other private loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you’re ready to borrow with MEFA, you can apply on its website.

Check rates at MEFA

STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution